Lucky Few Go Backstage With The Boys

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Date: Feb 25, 2001
Source: The Vancouver Sun
Submitted By: Lindsay

The teen heart-throbs talk about death, courage, their music, their fame and, oh yes, how they do their hair

The rules of the news conference were simple.

“Please don’t ask for a kiss or a hug,” the assembled questioners were told. “Or I’m going to end it right there.”

They were also told they had 30 seconds to ask their questions and were told the clock began ticking the moment they stepped up to the microphone.

But this was no ordinary news conference, these were no ordinary reporters, and the restrictions didn’t faze them a bit.

The occasion was a “fan-driven” event at which about 50 children were allowed to ask questions of the Backstreet Boys a few hours before their sold-out concert at GM Place.

Those who got to attend were the envy of hordes of screaming and crying teenage girls camped outside.

It was screaming that turned into full-blown adrenaline-induced wailing when Kevin, looking casually cool in a woollen maroon cap and leather jacket, approached the crowd of girls outside to sign autographs.

The fans gathered around the tour buses for hours before the Backstreet Boys concert, hoping for a glimpse of one of the five-member band.

Meanwhile, a mix of special-needs children, contest winners and a few parents were tucked away in a room above the GM Place arena, preparing to lob questions at Kevin, A.J., Nick, Howie and Brian.

“This is the best,” said Amelia Tennant, an 11-year-old who uses a wheelchair. “I’ve never seen them before.”

When the five hip 20-somethings sauntered into the room, a lineup of little girls formed behind the lone microphone.

For an hour, the Boys talked about their favourite albums, favourite countries and summer plans for a tour across Canada.

Some of the questions even made the Boys blush.

So why does A.J., generally seen with his facial hair carefully shorn into thin lines an inch above his jawbone, dye his hair “weird colours?”

“I’m 23 yearsold with a receding hair line, so I’m trying to have as much fun with it as I can,” he explained. (Later, during the show, he wore it in tight braids, with a bandanna tied around his forehead.)

Howie spoke about his sister’s death from lupus, something he does often in an effort to promote the lupus charity he sponsors in her memory.

He told Jennifer MacDonald, a 24-year-old who is terminally ill with the same disease, to “keep fighting.”

When asked for a song, the BSB delivered the a capella melody “Who Do You Love”, a song they’ve never recorded (but which Nick believes should be done without instruments on the next Backstreet Boys album).

It was a taste of what came later when the pop singers took to the stage at GM Place in front of 14,000 fans.

The Black and Blue tour was introduced by a spectacular pyrotechnic show quickly followed by some impressive footwork on the part of the Boys, set to the song “Everyone.”

Throughout the evening, the Boys took turns shouting “Vancouver!” midway through their lyrics.

The calls, intended to make amends for Vancouver being omitted from last year’s tour, drew tears and screams of joy from the crowd, which was on its feet for most of the night.

The playlist was primarily off the Boys’ most recent album, “Black and Blue,” but included songs from earlier albums, primarily “Millennium”.

The biggest audience response was to “Show Me The Meaning of Being Lonely,” and “I Want It That Way”, both from the “Millennium” album.

Midway through the show, the Boys left the stage and took the fans on a “virtual” tour of their dressing roon via a large oval-shaped video display screen above the stage.

To the cheers and jeers of the crowd, they showed off a variety of their outfits, along with hip-thrusts and bottom-wiggles.

Most of the fans were screaming young teenagers “in love” with the Boys.

The condition has become a rite of passage of sorts for North American girls, who at some point in their young loves are known to swoon over one boy band or another.

“I’d like to go back and remember what it felt like to hear our song on the radio for the first time,” said A.J.

The fame they experience as Backstreet Boys no doubt makesit difficult to recall the days when they began making small-time television appearances in Florida.

“We’re very fortunate that in almost every country in the world you can hear a Backstreet Boys song on the radio,” Kevin said.

“I think that’s one of our biggest accomplishments.”

-Sarah Galashan

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